Three Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center officials were fired Thursday by the center's governing board after the board heard a report from the interim management team.
Derek Timms, Allen Fife and Jim Schwartz were terminated because of their "wrongdoings" at the center, said Wasatch County Commissioner Pete Coleman, but specific charges have not yet been made against the three."With the recommendations made by the investigative team, the board felt justified in the decision," Coleman said.
The interim management team recommeded that Schwartz remain on the staff, but the authority board "wanted to be more consistent in their decisions" and dismissed all three employees, Coleman said.
Timms, Fife and Schwartz were suspended April 4 along with five other center administrators after a state legislative auditor's report charged that they misused more than $3.5 million in public funds.
Utah County Commissioner Gary Anderson said the three will be asked to pay back personal expenses incurred on center credit cards, but that amount won't be revealed until the county auditor's office knows the exact figures. "They are working on it right now and pursuing it vigorously," he said.
The terminations can be appealed to the Utah County Career Service Council.
Deanna Westwood is the only suspended official who hasn't yet appeared before the authority board. Clinical Director Richard Spencer was fired and then rehired on an hourly basis after going before the board last month. Former Executive Director Glen Brown, Finance Director Craig Stephens, and Youth Program Director Carl Smith resigned at the outset of the investigations.
The authority board -- consisting of Utah, Wasatch and Summit county commissioners -- also approved allowing the interim management team to begin recruiting candidates to fill the executive director position by the end of June.
"We need to get someone hired as soon as possible so the center can move forward," interim director David Dangerfield said. "I suggest we begin the process and make the decision in a fairly expeditious manner."
The center is looking for someone with a graduate degree in one of the mental health professions who can be licensed in the state of Utah in a respected mental health discipline. They are also asking for 10 years' experience in mental health or a related field with five years administrative experience being desireable. The search will be done nationally and the closing date for applications will be June 16.
In the interim director's report, Dangerfield continued to look into the four major problem areas at Timp Mental Health. He pointed out a number of steps needed to improve the center's structure and organizations, personnel procedures, fiscal procedures and accountability, and clinical facilities and services.
In response to those recommendations, the board adopted a policy to eliminate the employment of any person who is an employee of a private agency, government agency, or school district with which the center has a contractual agreement. This will be effective Aug. 1.
"This will affect at least 20 people" who may find their two-job earnings suddenly cut in half after contracts are terminated, Dangerfield said.
It will be difficult, but it is something that needs to be done, said Utah County Commissioner Malcolm Beck.
The authority board will also look at the 1988-89 fiscal year operating budget and staff compensation levels at the board meeting in June.
The organizational structure of Timp Mental Health was also approved by the board Thursday.
The authority board, consisting of the nine county commissioners from the three counties involved, would also serve as the governing board. They would appoint an executive committee consisting of several county commissioners' and mental health professionals.
To improve personnel services, Timp employees will be covered under the state merit system. Job descriptions are being written, and all employees are filling out job applications so the center can track employees and make sure their educational background matches their job description.